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The Croatian ministry for entrepreneurship and crafts has opened a tender procedure for improvement of competitiveness and development of small and medium-sized enterprises whereby non-repayable grants can be allocated from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and the total amount envisaged under this scheme is HRK 867 million.

The objective of this scheme is to improving the competitiveness of SMEs through encouragement of investments, diversification of production, application of new technologies and enlargement of capacities, and individual grants can range between HRK 300,000 to 30 million, according to a news conference which two Croatian ministers held in Zagreb on Monday to present the scheme.

The Minister for SMEs, Darko Horvat, said that the ministry had simplified the procedure to make it easier for SMEs to access the funds.

The EU Funds and Regional Development Minister Tomislav Tolusic announced additional public invitations in the coming days for applying for grants in the sectors of culture and healthcare.

"Small and medium-sized enterprises are vital for the EU's economy, accounting for more than 99% of European businesses and two thirds of private sector jobs. The European Structural and Investment Funds will make available more than EUR450 billion to Member States in 2014-2020 to finance investments for enhancing jobs and growth," according to information on the EC web site.

"Improving the competitiveness of SMEs is one of the 11 thematic objectives for Cohesion Policy in 2014-2020. Additional investments in SMEs will also be made under other thematic objectives, particularly research and innovation, the low-carbon economy and information and communication technologies. EUR57 billion or around 20% of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will be dedicated explicitly to SMEs. The increased use of financial instruments mobilising additional EU, national and regional funds during the 2014-2020 funding period is also expected to benefit SMEs."

(EUR 1 = HRK 7.5)

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